Pasonanca Natural Park is a 17,000-hectare plus forest reservation area and is a declared protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of the Philippines. It borders two major provinces Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur and is easily accessible via city proper of Zamboanga. Pasonanca Natural Park is the main source of potable water in Zamboanga City, in fact an interesting protection mechanism here is shared not just by the local government unit and DENR but the local water district as well. Its old-growth forest is situated just 78 meters above sea level, making it I think one of the more lush forests in lower elevation. This protected area is also developed as an ecotourism site where certain portion of the park is devoted for tourist activities like hiking, river trekking, camping and bird watching.
I got the opportunity to visit Pasonanca Park last November 27 when I participated the Mindanao Protected Area Management Board Network Conference held in Palacio Del Sur Hotel, Zamboanga City. The conference was a gathering of sort for all protected area workers in Mindanao and my participation was specifically handpicked by DENR due to my long-time engagement with Mt. Apo.
The itinerary was supposed to have us visiting two good birding sites in Zamboanga in Day 2 with Pasonanca Park in the morning and Sta. Cruz Island in the afternoon. However, the latter was cancelled due to a mishap that happened a night before the tour involving big vessel and a boat where 4 Protected Area personnel were on board, the case had me settled to a Pasonanca Park birding in the early morning of November 27. Together with my guide Joel Baysa who was earlier referred to me by Big Brother Pete Simpson, I arrived in Pasonanca Park by 6:00 AM and started the walk through were flock of Coleto warmly greeted us. The goal was to actually see a Mindanao endemic Zamboanga Bulbul but it seemed that the bird was shy in the early part of the day.
In a river portion near a flood control dam I saw a solitary White-eared Brown Dove and minutes after a group of seven Mindanao Racket-tail came across. Joel brought me to a denser trail where we heard calls of Mindanao Hornbill, White-eared Tailorbird, Amethyst Brown Dove and Philippine Cuocal. We were expecting the Silvery Kingfisher to show up but to no avail.
Grey Wagtail and Brown-breasted Kingfisher were in friendly mode near a concrete water impounding area together with Purple-throated Sunbird, Collared Kingfisher, Red-keeled Flowerpecker and the migrant Grey-streaked Flycatcher. After series of hiking I decided to take breakfast in one of the sari-sari stores there but before that Joel brought me to a house where a Mindanao Bleeding Heart was in captive, not a good site to witness. Just after a short hike in an open area the Zamboanga Bulbul finally provided a short perching period. Hair-crested Drongo also perched from afar which had me taking this out of focus photo below. And when we trekked back to the Silvery Kingfisher Site I got glimpse of the very rare migrant Blue and White Flycatcher although I did not get good photo because it disappeared very quickly. Pete told me he only saw this stunning bird four times.
That round of birding in Pasonanca gracefully ended my second visit in Zamboanga City. I am deeply gratified for the assistance given by Joel, perhaps the very good person to look when doing birding in Zamboanga especially in Pasonanca Natural Park. Sir Ed Ragaza of PAMB Mt. Apo, thank you so much Sir for including me in this great trip which definitely gave me more reasons to work for more with our very own highest Philippine mountain.